Enhancing Communication over the Phone Copy

Communicating over the phone is more difficult as there are no visual cues to help communication. Be sure to have a clear message, and take your time.

  • Introduce yourself and explain reason for call, even if you have spoken on the phone before
  • Break conversation down into short pieces of information, and check for understanding
  • Do not rush the person, and do not speak too quickly
  • Encourage the person to write information down (if they are able) to help with memory
  • Send a follow up email/text/letter to help the person remember details and for them to refer to later.

When delivering programs over the phone, organization and preparation are very important. We will discuss this further in Module 5: Activity. Ensure the participant has weekly outlines of their preparation and set-up, of the activities for the week, and how to use their materials. Also include information about how to access the program.

  • Provide organized reference materials to help communication, and clear instructions
  • Aim to be the one to initiate phone calls, rather than asking the participant to call you
  • During the program, use social norms to let everyone know what to expect and how to act
  • Ensure there is no background noise in your location
  • Speak slowly and clearly, and check for hearing and understanding
  • Use page numbers on all reference materials for easy use and refer to page numbers each time
  • Allow time for participants to find the correct page before you start, and describe the image in detail to ensure everyone is looking at the right page
  • Address participants by name before asking them a question
  • Allow an option for people to ‘pass’ if they do not wish to speak

When a participant has trouble understanding, take the time to support them. Use reference materials to ensure they are on the correct page and understand what they are looking at and what they are being asked. Confirm details as you go and try to include others as well to make the person feel less centred out. Apply the communication strategies we have already discussed and use the reference materials to help. For difficulty with hands-on activities, again, slow down and describe the process step by step, ensuring they understand and try it before you go to the next step. If you have included images of each step in your reference materials, direct them to that page for clarification.